So, you have decided to set up your warehouse to enable barcoding and you will be thinking about a host of issues but don’t forget about the barcode label – it does a very small but vital job for you, and it could be costly if you get it wrong.
In my opinion there are three factors you should consider when choosing the media for your label.
Firstly the type of printer you buy will determine the range of labels you can use.
Direct thermal printers will limit your range of labels to mainly indoor short term labels which generally can’t be exposed to heat, dampness or chemicals.
Mobile printers will have the same issues as they are all direct thermal printers.
Thermal transfer printers will allow you to print labels to withstand most warehouse/industrial situations from freezing temperatures to very hot manufacturing environments, so the harsher the environment within the warehouse the more likely that thermal transfer printers are the better option, and definitely the printer of choice if your labels are likely to be exposed to outside elements.
There are either mobile printers – ie portable printers; desktop – small printers that sit nicely on your desk; or mid/high range printers – larger printers that are faster and can accommodate a bigger range of labels;
Having defined the environment your labels will be used in, I would recommend that next you consider the information you need to include or display on your labels.
What would you like your label to achieve? This will determine its size and depends on what needs to be printed onto it and where you would like it to be placed. There is no point putting loads of information on labels if the label won’t fit on its destination! Alternatively, there is no point have a large label with a small barcode at the bottom.
We always recommend the Zebra range of labels as they are proved to prolong the life of the printerhead and are designed to work well and do the job they are supposed to. In conjunction with the Zebra printers they produce excellent quality bar codes that have an excellent track record for readable barcodes.
Zebra labels are available in a variety of fixed sizes from 25mm to 210mm. However, some printers won’t be able to print larger labels – most do 102mm width but some only do 76mm. On the opposite end of the spectrum most label printers struggle to print below 20mm and I would recommend that you seek advice from the printer manufacturer or a label expert if you need a smaller custom size. Zebra offer a service that allows a customer to produce a custom size label branded with their own logos and produced in any colour, with any of their materials, so the choice is enormous.
Should you use paper or synthetic? Zebra produce a very good top coated paper label for both Direct thermal and Thermal Transfer printers, this label works well in the indoor warehouse environment. It lasts a year under normal warehouse conditions, but can’t be exposed to water. If you require a label to be outside or to last longer, then there is a range of synthetic labels that can work with rain, chemicals, heat etc.
So the barcode label can be very innocuous in the working environment and often gets forgotten in the scheme of things until it falls off your products or cannot be read. So spend 5 minutes to take the above elements into account before you decide which printer and media are right for your business, but pick the right one and it will do the job perfectly for you.